We want the best for our kids, especially when it comes to their education. To this end, we focus on what the school offers. Will it provide what our children need? Will it nurture and care for our children in a way that will allow them to flourish? Will it cater to the academic standards we desire? Our attention to these details is without a doubt, super important. One of the most important decisions we make for our kids, centres around their education. But should we also be considering something else on top of what the school can offer us? Is there something WE can offer to ensure that our child receives the best education? The answer is a resounding yes and comes in the form of parental involvement.
When our kids start school, it’s not just them that will make new relationships. We will too. Some of you may feel uncomfortable entering into a fully participating relationship with the school, or may feel that the school can do the job without you. But the truth is that even when your children start school, parental involvement plays a vital role in their success and overall development. You and the school form a team, and together work towards your child receiving the best education they can.
So how do we know what schools need from us in terms of parental involvement? To provide us with an insight into this, education expert and ex-elementary principal, R. Mooney, highlights seven things that matter most to schools when it comes to parental involvement.
1. Parents Getting Involved
Whether your child is just starting kindergarten or entering their last year of elementary/primary school, parental involvement is key. One way of doing this is to volunteer at school. It’s a great way for parents to show they’re interested in their child’s education. Many grade-schoolers like to see their parents at school or at school events. But follow your child’s cues to find out how much interaction works for both of you. If your child seems uncomfortable with your presence at the school or with your involvement in an extracurricular activity, consider taking a more behind-the-scenes approach. Make it clear that you aren’t there to spy — you’re just trying to help out the school community.
2. Sending Your Child to School Ready to Learn
There are two key areas in terms of sending your child to school ready to learn – giving them a nutritious breakfast and getting the right amount of sleep. There is plenty of research to highlight just how important these two simple, yet highly important factors are.
3. Supporting Homework Expectations
While differing views among different schools, different teachers and different parents about the value and importance of homework, where a school homework policy and practices exist, parents should support the school’s homework expectations.
“Good Homework” reinforces and extends classroom learning and enables children to practice study skills that will be essential in secondary/high school, and especially in college and university.
It helps to develop a sense of responsibility and work ethic that benefits them well beyond the classroom and their school life.
It provides your child with a conducive study environment. Be available for questions and guidance but do not give answers.
4. Teaching Organizational Skills
When kids are organized, they can stay focused instead of spending time hunting things down and getting sidetracked.
Talk to your child about keeping his or her school desk orderly so papers that need to come home don’t get lost. Teach your child how to use a calendar or personal planner to help stay organized.
It’s also helpful to teach your child how to make a to-do list to help prioritize and get things done. It can be as simple as: homework, pre PE clothes, put clothes away.
5. Teaching study skills
Studying for a test can be scary for young children, and many educators assume parents will help their kids during the grade-school years. Introducing your child to study skills now will pay off with good learning habits throughout life.
In elementary school, children usually take end-of-unit tests in math, spelling, science, and social studies. Be sure to know when a test is scheduled so you can help your child study ahead of time rather than just the night before. You also might need to remind your child to bring home the right study materials, such as notes, study guides, or books.
Teach your child how to break down overall tasks into smaller, manageable chunks so preparing for a test isn’t overwhelming. You also can introduce your child to tricks like mnemonic devices to help with recalling information.
6. Attending Back-to-School Night and Parent-Teacher Conferences
Children do better in school when parents are involved in their academic lives. Attending back-to-school night at the start of the school year is a great way to get to know your child’s teacher and his or her expectations. School administrators may discuss school-wide programs and policies, too.
Attending parent-teacher conferences is another way to stay informed. These are usually held once or twice a year at progress reporting periods. The conferences are a chance to start or continue conversations with your child’s teacher and discuss strategies to help your child do his or her best in class. Meeting with the teacher also lets your child know that what goes on in school will be shared at home.
7. Making Time to Talk About School
It’s usually easy to talk with elementary students about what’s going on in class and the latest news at school. You probably know what books your child is reading and are familiar with the math being worked on. But parents can get busy and forget to ask the simple questions, which can have an effect on children’s success at school.
Make time to talk with your child every day, so he or she knows that what goes on at school is important to you. When kids know parents are interested in their academic lives, they’ll take school seriously as well.
Because communication is a two-way street, the way you talk and listen to your child can influence how well your child listens and responds. It’s important to listen carefully, make eye contact, and avoid multitasking while you chat. Be sure to ask questions that go beyond “yes” or “no” answers.
Besides during family meals, good times to talk include car trips (though eye contact isn’t needed here, of course), walking the dog, preparing meals, or standing in line at a store.
Over to You…
I hope you found this insight into parental involvement helpful. What have your experiences been like in your child’s school? Have you found it easy to work with your child’s school or run into difficulties? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.